Work at SourceForge, help us to make it a better place! We have an immediate need for a Support Technician in our San Francisco or Denver office.

Close

pros/cons/ideas for levels 20-50

sjtsp2008
2011-08-05
2013-06-06
  • sjtsp2008
    sjtsp2008
    2011-08-05

    i won't be able to attend the aug 9 meeting that hendrik proposed, but
    i do have some thoughts on what i liked about pre-level-50, and things
    i think could have been better

    these notes are pretty rough, and i hope i can add more later.  but i wanted
    to get them out before the meeting

    caveat: i've never played any other adventure games, nethack, diablo,
    nor any mmorpg.  maybe some of my "cons" are just normal for this type
    of game.  i did play neverwinter maybe 20 years ago, but can't remember
    anything about it.

    pros:
      - discovering new stuff
      - nice people
      - pizza delivery is a good way to learn territory
      -

    cons (mostly levels :
      - no story line
        - didn't really know what to do, other than daily quests
      - got some impossible creatures
        - brain ahouga
        - felt like there was a lot of traveling in a triangle
      - collected ton of quests that were impossible
      - couldn't really get to the end of most of the quests that i picked up
        - they are for much higher levels
        - just a little further, then go back and get some more potions
      - fishing, prospecting, etc., just gets boring
      - several things said "you are not ready yet", but would not say when
        - even just a hint would have been less frustrating
      - (personal) don't like having to kill bears, elephants, deer, …, even ents
        - i won't kill elephants or deer, so i won't get those achievements
        - i would like another achievement, for "friend of wildlife" :-)

    ideas:
      - guided tours
        - by experienced players
        - i think that happens some times already, but usually to places too tough for lvl 20
      - easier to get help with harder daily quests
        - i didn't really want to ask anyone in semos, felt like it would bother them
        - maybe a "badge" - you can bother me
        - helpers get karma for helping?
      - hints from certain npcs - "bored"
        - "have you tried, …", "i heard that …"
          - based on level and experience
      - scavenger hunts
        - people
        - places
        - things
      - earlier quests?
       - maybe support more daily quests without
        - that could be level-limited, so that you would have to start going to ados, …
      - (big): able to get parcel of land early
        - grow your own whatever
        - start a business
      - deliver other stuff
        - extended fedex service, get paid

     
  • Katie Russell
    Katie Russell
    2011-08-05

    Hi, thanks a lot for writing out these ideas and comments! They will be useful at the meeting.

     
  • oslsachem
    oslsachem
    2011-08-05

    >> caveat: i've never played any other adventure games, nethack, diablo,
    >> nor any mmorpg.  maybe some of my "cons" are just normal for this type
    >> of game.

    The fact of not being familiarized with this genre of games just makes your criticism more representative and valuable. :)

    >>   - no story line
    >>     - didn't really know what to do, other than daily quests

    A game essentially consists of:
        - A set of rules that direct gameplay.
        - A set of goals which once achieved puts the game to an end and declares some of the players as winners.

    A game without goals is not strictly a game but a simulation (which is based on the set of rules).

    Role-Playing Games (RPGs) would be probably best referred to as simulations because they lack by themselves of definite goals.

    Thus a RPG is an incomplete kind of game which provides the mechanisms of gameplay but not the policy, i.e. it lacks the storyline and goals. So it is up to the players to set and choose the particular goals at any time and to develop storylines for the game by assuming roles and playing them.
    The game can merely provide some background story and elements that help players develop their particular adventures.

    What you experienced could be due to the lack of special players (the gamemasters) who direct the gameplay and provide the goals.

    Goals are currently scripted as quests but lack the level of interactivity and the capacity of improvisation that only a human being can provide. And they require coding and testing them beforehand. That said, they are necessary to provide some form of gameplay when there are no gamemasters available.

    Raids only give limited control to the admin and are focused on killing hordes of attacking creatures.

    A role-playing game needs available, cooperative and responsible gamemasters to set the goals for players and have fun themselves at the same time.

    There's a need for a specialized gamemaster client mode (GM toolkit):

    It should allow to:
    - place items and creatures with ease, preferably using the mouse.
    - possess NPCS and creatures as if they were Player Characters:
        - speak through them and move them.
        - make them attack
        - make them drop or give something to the player, heal her, teleport her…
        - make them go somewhere
        - and finally release them to carry on with their scripted behaviour at any time
    - send narrative (tutorial) messages to a certain group of players at any time.
    - track any online player as if she was that player herself and see what she sees at any time (and why not, even several players simultaneously in a splitted window). The player would be continously given some feedback notifying her that she is being monitored by a gamemaster.

      >>   - felt like there was a lot of traveling in a triangle

    a triangle? Could you explain that in more detail?

      >> - collected ton of quests that were impossible
      >> - couldn't really get to the end of most of the quests that i picked up
      >>   - they are for much higher levels
      >>   - just a little further, then go back and get some more potions

    To sum it up: too little low-level quests.

      >> - fishing, prospecting, etc., just gets boring

    That's the resource management part of a game, which tends to get repetitive and eventually loses the interest from the player. It usually doesn't have a definite goal because you can collect an unlimited amount of a particular resource and this activity never comes to an end.

      >> - several things said "you are not ready yet", but would not say when
      >>   - even just a hint would have been less frustrating

    They should say why you are not ready even if they can't tell when.

      >> - (personal) don't like having to kill bears, elephants, deer, …, even ents
      >>   - i won't kill elephants or deer, so i won't get those achievements
      >>   - i would like another achievement, for "friend of wildlife" :-)

    The game relies too much on killing things instead of living in peace with them.:)
    Elves, dwarves, gnomes, kobolds are also amenable creatures who someone doesn't want to kill at first glance. They should have a peaceful profile and attack only when they are attacked.
    Blood pools should be disabled by default and left as an option as they add a gory atmosphere to the game which makes it unsuitable for younger audiences.

      >> ideas:
      >>   - guided tours
      >>     - by experienced players
      >>     - i think that happens some times already, but usually to places too tough for lvl 20

    That is not always feasible because it relies on having an available and gentle player at any time.
    The guided tour should be performed by an automated NPC like a soldier, who can cross zones and can wait for the player before advancing further in her predefined path (for a reasonable amount of time).
    The guide could stop briefly at each region to give a description of it.
    There should be one guide spawned for each player that asks for it in some place.

      >> - easier to get help with harder daily quests
      >>   - i didn't really want to ask anyone in semos, felt like it would bother them
      >>   - maybe a "badge" - you can bother me
      >>   - helpers get karma for helping?

    A global support channel could be implemented in the client in a chat window tab, which the players join by default.
    A kudos system like the one used by ohloh (http://www.ohloh.net/about/kudos) could be implemented which helps to prevent abuse from player clones giving karma to their masters.

      >>   - hints from certain npcs - "bored"
      >>     - "have you tried, …", "i heard that …"
      >>       - based on level and experience

    You mean adding the "bored" keyword to NPCs so that they give hints about activities the players can do which aren't related to any quest?

      >> - scavenger hunts
      >>   - people
      >>   - places
      >>   - things

    Why not call them bounty hunts? :)

      >> - (big): able to get parcel of land early
      >>   - grow your own whatever
      >>   - start a business
      >> - deliver other stuff
      >>   - extended fedex service, get paid

    That looks like resource management, like fishing or prospecting… They may be fun for a while but may get repetitive in the end unless some variation is progressively but continously added. This is not to say that it isn't worth trying it.

     
  • Osl, I strongly disagree about the GM part.  Other games have proven that it is possible to setup story lines solely based on NPC interaction.

     
  • sjtsp2008
    sjtsp2008
    2011-08-06

    thanks for reading/replying.

    sorry, i posted the note kind of quickly, and a couple of things didn't really
    make sense (even to me).  and the first thing i should have said was that i really do
    like stendhal, and have spent a couple hundred hours so far in the game.
    a couple of times, just after losing a week's work by dying, i have wondered
    why i should bother getting the stats back.  but then a day later i'm playing
    and having fun …

    (how did you get quote marks (>>) in your reply?

    - story line: i think the idea of a human gm would be great, but i was thinking
      more about some "thread" of quests.  i think most commercial single-player
      rpgs (like neverwinter, maybe dragon age?) have a mechanism for letting
      you know "the big thing" that you should work on next.  you can explore
      other stuff, but there is a main story.
      i don't know much about runescape, but it seems like they have a system
      for linking smaller quests in to a bigger quest.

    - traveling in a triangle: sorry, that was vague.  what i meant was that most of
      my in-game life was spent quickly running out of potions somewhere,
      prospecting at river, casting gold bars in ados, selling them in fado, buying
      potions at zoo.  couldn't spend money on scrolls because i needed the
      money for potions, …  maybe i should have been more patient and only
      hunted creatures that were lower than my level (except for daily quest)

    - too little low-level quests: maybe, but this could also be more about
      getting clues about what's realistic.  i can't remember when i got my 6 giant
      hearts quest, probably around level 20.  i presumed that i would not get
      quests that were way out of reach, so went to find a giant … bad idea

    - resource management: i actually like fishing, or prospecting, for a little while.
      but needing to do it for an hour to get a lot of money is the issue (even though
      i can watch netflix while i brainlessly click …).  the issue is probably more
      about why did i need so much money/so many potions that early (which is my fault)

    - guided tours: i like the idea of npc tour guides.  sounds difficult.  i don't think a real player would
      have to be available at any time - could be scheduled - "leaving semos next sunday at 14:00", …

    - "bored": yes, i meant that some npcs, maybe esp. bartenders or people who hear rumors,
       would respond to "bored" - check the players level (and maybe stats), and pick from a list
       of nearby reasonable things to do.

    - deliveries/farming/etc: good point, could/would get boring.  i think i was thinking about
      bigger ideas into the future - if my goal is to make a lot of money, i could start a farm,
      and maybe a mill, which would have to deliver to cities.  my interaction in the game is
      less about killing things, more about building, protecting my farm, farmers, and livestock, protecting the
      deliveries (need guards), hiring (npc) farmers, maybe even creating new types of plants …
      maybe that's too much like some of the facebook games, too far from what stendhal is really about

    i hope my original post didn't wound whiny.  i think the game is fun, and i'm still playing.
    i think stendhal is much like the game i was trying to write 30 years ago on my apple II
    (when i barely knew how to program, had no artistic skills, and the internet was not available …)
    i just wanted to get some ideas out there.

    some other ideas that i remembered:

    - the level/atk/def system was (still is) confusing to me - should i be using a hammer
      or a dagger to fight this creature?
        - i think one way to help with this would be a sort of "training center", with dummies
          of various levels/def that you could beat on, to see which weapon works better
          in that case (at your current level)
        - maybe you could earn one or two levels of atk in the training center, but then
          you would stop getting atk points after that.  or maybe you don't get any atk at
          all, but can see the effect of various weapons, based on your currently level, …

    - fun-sounding ideas from other systems: crafting, magic.  i know from the source updates that
      magic is being worked on.

    - spectating: esp on raids, big hunts.  either record/replay, or able to put a player in invincible-and-impotent
      mode (i guess invisible, too - creatures would not attack).  can travel with the stronger players, but
      cannot participate, nor get in the way.

    - nothing we can do about it, but swearing, bickering, and the brewing war is not fun for me.
      at one point i stopped using the public server, started playing on a private server.  but multiplayer
      is the fun part.

    - something i've thought about, but which is probably too big for me as a first project, is to
      collect trails for players over all time, or for some period of time.  i think it would just be fun
      (maybe depressing) to see my trail over the past month.  but i think game developers (like
      halo or the war games) use such data (drawn on game maps) to try to understand when
      players don't know  what they should be doing, give up on something, … 
      i don't know enough about databases to make this efficient.
      again, probably big project with possibly low return on investment …

     
  • sjtsp2008
    sjtsp2008
    2011-08-06

    sorry, didn't finish my thought about training center: you could borrow any
    weapon, not just use the ones in your backpack.  you could decide that
    you really want a chaos hammer before you attack some creature, and then plan
    to get one, either by fighting the necessary creatures, or saving up enough money, …
    but, when you leave the training center, the borrowed weapons stay there …

    def/hp is sort of the same - i think most people don't realize right away that
    stripping off all of your gear seems to help your def stats rise more quickly.
    (at least it seems that way).  but i'm not sure how to implement getting attacked
    in the training center - maybe when you would die, you have to take a break?

     
  • oslsachem
    oslsachem
    2011-08-07

    >> Osl, I strongly disagree about the GM part. Other games have proven that it is possible to setup story lines solely based on NPC interaction.

    nhnb, I didn't want to say that it isn't possible:

    As you state, it is a well-proven formula for RPG games.

    In fact, it could be that what stendhal lacks is quest chaining (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quest_%28gaming%29#Quest_chains). However, this means increasing linearity (i.e. restricting the player freedom), which seems the only solution to the players getting lost in an automated game.

    One can imagine why commercial games have focused solely on NPC interaction:
    They make most of their revenue not from selling the retail software but from the monthly fees for hosting player accounts on their servers or from premium services (i.e. software as a service).
    That is why they usually only sell the client software and not the server software.
    Considering that they host thousands of users playing simultaneously and that a gamemaster can properly handle at most around 10 players, it is obvious that merely having the required staff would be prohibitively expensive.
    (In fact the Massive nature of MMORPGs seems that becomes a hindrance despite automation, when there exist instance dungeons, which limit the number of players who can enter them to 10 or 25.)

    I don't say it is unnecessary either:
    Expecting to have at least someone always available to perform as a gamemaster for players isn't realistic. Thus, automation/scripting is necessary to prevent the game from becoming unplayable (e.g. creatures not moving, NPCs not talking).
    Even when a gamemaster is present, automation can be a great help (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer-assisted_gaming).

    I say that, when it is used exclusively, the game isn't optimally enjoyable:
    Even the games whose input and mechanics are well defined (and are computationally tractable) are funnier when played against another human than when played against a computer even when the computer is actually better at playing that game and poses a bigger challenge.

    Human interaction seems to play then a key role in the gaming experience and a computer falls short of recreating it (currently at least).
    For example, in Interactive voice response (IVR) technology (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interactive_Voice_Response), automation serves a purpose but it can't be compared to human interaction when that is available.

    In the end, I am saying that the human direction of the game has been neglected in favour of automation.
    I envision a game that brings the modern technological resources currently available to the classical tabletop role-playing games without losing that human interaction which makes them so entertaining.

    Is it feasible to recreate that gaming experience by means of computers? Maybe not, but I think it is worth a try.

    I think that the goal of becoming the most faithful 2D representation of World Of Warcraft (or any other trendy MMORPG) is too limiting.
    Automated MMORPGs usually end up being more precisely massive single-player online RPGs. That is, a group of people playing solo storylines, which just happen to do it in the same environment with hardly any game-imposed interaction between them except when they do raids.

    I think the project should not limit itself to implement well-proven formulas but attempt original approaches to game design.

     
  • oslsachem
    oslsachem
    2011-08-07

    >> Doesn't it does smell of the good old Arianne? :D

    mblanch, you have lost me there. Can you point out what you are referring to? :)

     
  • oslsachem
    oslsachem
    2011-08-07

    >> a couple of times, just after losing a week's work by dying, i have wondered
    >> why i should bother getting the stats back.  but then a day later i'm playing
    >> and having fun …

    The game has a means of minimizing death losses. You may ask about it in the #arianne-chat IRC channel.

    >> (how did you get quote marks (>>) in your reply?

    I put them by myself. In case you are interested, I describe the process (if only to increase forum statistics :) ):

    C- means Control key
    M- means Alt key

    In Mozilla Firefox:
    Select the text of your post
    Right click on it -> see selected source code (this step seems necessary. Otherwise, I get the text without newlines)
    Right click and paste the text

    Switch to GNU Emacs:
    C-y to paste it
    C-x x to select the pasted text
    M-x comment-region to comment the selected text
    >> to define the comment syntax
    And later to paste it back to the browser:
    C-x h to select the whole text
    M-w to copy the selected text

    Switch to Mozilla Firefox:
    Right click and paste the text

    >> - story line: i think the idea of a human gm would be great, but i was thinking
    >>   more about some "thread" of quests.  i think most commercial single-player
    >>   rpgs (like neverwinter, maybe dragon age?) have a mechanism for letting
    >>   you know "the big thing" that you should work on next.  you can explore
    >>   other stuff, but there is a main story.
    >>   i don't know much about runescape, but it seems like they have a system
    >>   for linking smaller quests in to a bigger quest.

    I had the same thought: quest chains (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quest_%28gaming%29#Quest_chains).

    >> - traveling in a triangle: sorry, that was vague.  what i meant was that most of
    >>   my in-game life was spent quickly running out of potions somewhere,
    >>   prospecting at river, casting gold bars in ados, selling them in fado, buying
    >>   potions at zoo.  couldn't spend money on scrolls because i needed the
    >>   money for potions, …  maybe i should have been more patient and only
    >>   hunted creatures that were lower than my level (except for daily quest)

    A GM would have probably solved your lack of potions by improvising a nearby loot.
    Automation, on the other hand creates a simulation of an economy, which involves the player in resource management instead of focusing on the quest at hand.

    >> - too little low-level quests: maybe, but this could also be more about
    >>   getting clues about what's realistic.  i can't remember when i got my 6 giant
    >>   hearts quest, probably around level 20.  i presumed that i would not get
    >>   quests that were way out of reach, so went to find a giant … bad idea

    Ok, so you mean there are offerings of dangerous quests which don't take into account the level of the player. That could be reported as a bug, IMHO.

    >> - resource management: i actually like fishing, or prospecting, for a little while.
    >>   but needing to do it for an hour to get a lot of money is the issue (even though
    >>   i can watch netflix while i brainlessly click …).  the issue is probably more
    >>   about why did i need so much money/so many potions that early (which is my fault)

    I think the issue is why brainlessly clicking should be part of a game. But it is a well-established style of game: the highly succesful Diablo RPG has been referred to as a mindless clickfest.

    >> - guided tours: i like the idea of npc tour guides.  sounds difficult.  i don't think a real player would
    >>   have to be available at any time - could be scheduled - "leaving semos next sunday at 14:00", …

    I would contradict myself if I told you that human-guided tours aren't better than npc-guided tours. :)

    >> - deliveries/farming/etc: good point, could/would get boring.  i think i was thinking about
    >>   bigger ideas into the future - if my goal is to make a lot of money, i could start a farm,
    >>   and maybe a mill, which would have to deliver to cities.  my interaction in the game is
    >>   less about killing things, more about building, protecting my farm, farmers, and livestock, protecting the
    >>   deliveries (need guards), hiring (npc) farmers, maybe even creating new types of plants …
    >>   maybe that's too much like some of the facebook games, too far from what stendhal is really about

    I had the same feeling at some point in the game. Killing is after all, a destructive action and something more constructive sounded appealing.
    In effect, there exists the risk that the RPG genre overlaps with the resource management genre. In fact, this overlapping already happens in any RPG which has some form of economy. Nevertheless, role-playing shouldn't be restricted to fighting adventurers wandering into dark dungeons…

    >> i hope my original post didn't wound whiny.  i think the game is fun, and i'm still playing.
    I think respectful criticism is essential for a project and even refreshing.

    >> - the level/atk/def system was (still is) confusing to me - should i be using a hammer
    >>   or a dagger to fight this creature?
    >>     - i think one way to help with this would be a sort of "training center", with dummies
    >>       of various levels/def that you could beat on, to see which weapon works better
    >>       in that case (at your current level)
    >>     - maybe you could earn one or two levels of atk in the training center, but then
    >>       you would stop getting atk points after that.  or maybe you don't get any atk at
    >>       all, but can see the effect of various weapons, based on your currently level, …

    The game has a means to give hints about the adequate weapons for creatures. But judging by your comment, perhaps it needs more visibility… You may ask about it in the #arianne-chat IRC channel.

     
  • Some of these proposals were old goals that Arianne use to have but that were discarted mainly because they were to complex to achieve or simply by lack of manpower.

     
  • Some of these proposals were old goals that Arianne use to have but that were discarded
    mainly because they were to complex to achieve or simply by lack of manpower.

    Yes, and some were tried and failed miserably such as trying to have human guides and GMs interacting with players.

    We did huge improvements since the early days. For example when I joined the project in 2007, less than 7% of created accounts returned (that is excluding the waves with hundreds of account creation as the number would be a lot smaller otherwise).

    Today between 40% and 50% of accounts are logged in at least twice. This number is really great, if seen in context: In Second Life the number of returned accounts is 50%. And only 60% of all people who bought Portal 2 (that is spend real money on it) completed the 5 minute tutorial to get the first achievement.

    So now is a good time to step away a little and try to focus on players in the range of level 1-10 and 11-50:

    • What are the things new people have problems with? Do they learn how to play? Do they get lost in the world?

    • Are there things that get new players frustrated?

    • How can we learn about the real issues? Are there people out there who can do a usability assessments? (Most important rule for UAs: Do not help the test subject neither by giving tips nor in any other way.)
      Can we verify some theories based on the logs?

    • What can we do to improve the situation?

     
  • While we have to learn from the old experiences, a lot of things have changed.

    Therefore it is helpful to look at the mentioned aspects from today's point of view. The reasons why we could not do certain things in the past may not be valid any more. Furthermore there are sub optimal things we don't notice any more because we are too used to them.

    For the above reasons, I am really thankful for your input, sjtsp2008 and osl.

    For the meeting on Tuesday, I like to exclude the topic of human guides. This topic is so complex that it deserves it's own meeting. And it is closely related to the topic of encouraging playing together instead of alongside.

     
  • oslsachem
    oslsachem
    2011-08-09

    >> How can we learn about the real issues?

    Indirect measurements imply speculations whose results can be inaccurate, especially when trying to determine the user dislikes in a game.

    I suggest using direct measurements, to the fullest extent possible, by asking for feedback to new players directly and individually with immediacy, good timing and an uncommitted and frank opinion.

    Immediacy: a player who doesn't like the game isn't probably going to bother to:
    - start the web browser and go to stendhal's website.
    - read about how to properly report a bug or request a feature (that is, if he bothers to think about that distinction or is familiarized with those terms).
    - browse through Sourceforge's sizable bug or feature request list.
    - see if her observations have already been reported.
    So she should be able to give feedback using the game client.

    Good timing: The player should be able to:
    - report particular annoyances just as she experiences them so that she doesn't have to remember them for later or changes her mind about reporting them.
    - optionally send her opinion about the game as a whole when she quits the game (maybe to not play it again and uninstall it).

    Uncommitted: The player shouldn't be asked to explain thoroughly her dislike of the game, so she should be allowed to give as much or as little details as she wishes.

    Frankness: The player should be guaranteed anonymity when submitting the report, so that she can express her opinion frankly and doesn't have any fear of reprisals from the game admins.

    >> What can we do to improve the situation?

    Change the game welcome message:
    Need help? http://stendhalgame.org/wiki/AskForHelp . Keep your password completely secret, never tell to another friend, player, or admin. Each time you find something you don't like or which you think that can be improved, type /opinion followed by your text (be frank: anonymity is guaranteed)

    Add the /opinion command:
    The report of the /opinion command should be sent to some wiki page where later a human can filter the information she considers relevant and classify it to post it on another wiki page.
    The use of the /support command should be restricted to reporting urgent or serious player problems and not for this purpose.

    Modify the game's exit window:
    The game exit window should display an additional text box greyed out by default, which is enabled by marking a checkbox with the following text:
    Tell us why you don't like this game (Be frank: anonymity is guaranteed)
    (Use this as many times as you want)

    GUI mockup:

    http://www.speedyshare.com/files/29784688/QuitWindow.png

     


Anonymous


Cancel   Add attachments